Unity Legion’s trademark this season has been late-inning comebacks.
Things were no different Friday as the Bulldogs scored seven runs in the sixth inning and four in the eighth to defeat Latrobe, 15-12, in Game 1 of a best-of-three semifinal series at Latrobe’s Keener Field.
A bases-loaded double in the top of the eighth by Preston Boerio gave Unity the lead, and Cole Novak’s single, his fifth of the game, brought in the 15th run.
“Not that I want it to be,” said Unity manager Ed Guzik of his team’s late-inning heroics. “I told them all day that we’re never out of a game. Keep in the thing, and good things will happen.”
After a successful bunt in the eighth by Connor Mondock, Tyler Kuhns was intentionally walked to load the bases for Boerio.
After catching seven innings in 90-degree heat, Boerio found the strength to blast a long double to center field.
“They walked Koonie, bases loaded, you can’t think of anything else,” Boerio said. “I knew to get my hands in and hit one hard.”
The two teams will play Game 2 on Saturday at 1 p.m. at Unity’s Whitney Field.
Trailing 10-4 in the sixth, the Bulldogs (18-6) sent 13 batters to the plate to erase a commanding Latrobe lead.
Four walks and three errors off four Latrobe pitchers aided the rally.
“The only thing I can bring up is maybe some playoff jitters,” Latrobe manager Jason Bush said of his team’s difficult inning. “We had a series where both games were won by one run. I thought winning those one-run games would have been good for us, but it didn’t turn out that way.”
Latrobe is 18-4-1. Three of the losses have been to its neighboring rival, Unity.
After Unity scored twice in the first, Latrobe quickly tied the score and took command with four runs in the second. A triple by Matt Henderson scored two runs.
Griffin Clark then blasted a drive to center that eluded the outstretched glove of Mondock, and Clark was on his way to an inside-the-park homer.
Latrobe added three more in the third and one in the fifth for Jethawks starter Ben Rafferty. But Latrobe needed four pitchers in the sixth before Adam Wolford finally stemmed the tide.
“Good teams, when you get a chance to take advantage of someone making a mistake, then you have to,” Guzik said. “We hit the ball, had some big, timely hits and all the small things that kept us in the game.”
Latrobe loaded the bases in the bottom of the eighth, but winning pitcher Matthew Albaugh got the side out with only one run scoring.
“You can’t moan about it,” Bush said. “All we have do is win the next inning, one pitch, one at-bat at a time, and that’s what we’re going to preach to them,”
Henderson and Clark drove I four runs each for Latrobe.
George Guido is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact George at .